Critiquing Film, Television, and More

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010): Changing the Way Documentaries are Made

The greatest crossover of graffiti artists featuring talents such as Space Invader, Shepard Fairy, Zeus, Borf, Buffmonster, and more, makes Marvel’s Infinity War + Endgame look like a piece of cake. Exit Through the Gift Shop concocts graffiti art as something that’s so much more than meets the eye. Like, it’s so revolutionary and downright cool. Y’all who diss it are just whiny, “the law is my Bible” duds, no offense.

Something extraordinary about the contemporary documentary has to do with its choices of exploration. It often seems as if the movie doesn’t know exactly what it specifically wants to be and is rather only conscious of exploring random elements of the topic it desires to exhibit. 

Banksy’s film never specifies whether what is on display is real or not or how some of the footage actually relates to the broad scheme of things, but it does allow the viewers to get immersed in a broad perspective of the world of graffiti art and its artists. This is what makes the movie’s experience feel so infinitely creative when compared to the more straightforward, classically layered documentary.

A fine example of the unsureness of Banksy’s debut—and most likely his last—can already be captured in one of its segments within the opening. Banksy is interviewed and asked what Exit Through the Gift Shop is about and he essentially answers that the film is about a documentary about this guy named Thierry Guetta, who was trying to make a documentary about Banksy, but in some cases caused the film to end up being about himself, but also kind of about some other graffiti artists, and now directed by and thrown into the commanding hands of Banksy. While this description is a mouthful, it is, however, a conundrum that perfectly describes the complicated vagueness of Exit Through the Gift Shops wildling intentions.

That being said, these aims are utilized to make the spontaneousness of its messages feel like one whole handsome collage of various perspectives from those who have lived through moments of the street art movement, especially that of the legendary wizard Mr. Brainwash. 

I appreciate how Banksy also decided to share the passionate side of Guetta, someone who has a driving passion for videotaping the world around him. So, if you love portrait art and film art, well, this will be a full-course meal for you, huh? 

I also find it interesting how this movie is critically about how this movie was made. What a conundrum that is.

Verdict: B

Thierry is kind of the Tommy Wiseau of street art though, right?

“Exit Through the Gift Shop” is now available to rent and buy on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, and iTunes.

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